Tonsillitis: When can you get your tonsils removed? Dr Ranj outlines symptoms to look for

During the Second Opinion segment on This Morning, Dr Ranj answered a call by a woman who has had tonsillitis 16 times in the last six years. 

Desperate to have her tonsils removed, she revealed her doctor had advised against this. 

So what symptoms do you need to be experiencing to have them taken out? 

Dr Ranj explained the difference between viral tonsillitis and bacterial tonsillitis. 

He said: “The vast majority of cases are viral, but they are sometimes caused by bacteria – you can tell by having a swab taken. 

“If medication containing penicillin isn’t working, it could be because the bacteria causing tonsillitis has become resistant to that. 

“If it’s viral, it’s not going to respond to antibiotics.” 

While tonsil removal used to be done a lot more, Dr Ranj said it’s done less frequently now because of the risks involved with the operation and other treatment options being available. 

So when can you have your tonsils removed? 

Dr Ranj said: “We do take them out in adults if you have recurring severe bout of tonsillitis or it affects your breathing. 

“Provision may depend on your local NHS service. 

“If tonsillitis keeps happening, your GP can refer you to an ENT surgeon. 

“Taking them out isn’t always the answer.” 

So what other treatment is available? 

The NHS says to help ease the symptoms: 

  • Get plenty of rest 
  • Drink cool drinks to soothe the throat 
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen (don’t give aspirin to children under 16) 
  • Gargle with warm salty water (children shouldn’t try this) 

Your pharmacist can also help with tonsillitis by suggesting lozenges, throat sprays and antiseptic solutions. 

Treatment from a GP will depend on what caused your tonsillitis: 

  • A virus (viral tonsillitis), which most children and adults have – this type has to run its course and antibiotics won’t help
  • Bacteria (bacterial tonsillitis) – your GP may prescribe antibiotics 

Usually your GP will have to wait for the rest results to tell which type you have. 

Cough season is upon us, and whether it’s a dry, chesty, tickly or mucus cough you have, the symptoms can be annoying and draining. But what does it mean if you’re coughing up green phlegm? Should you be worried?


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